Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Mere Mortals: Gutted.

So, here we are, the home stretch. The eighth track on the record. If you've stumbled onto this for the first time and would like some background on this series, check this out. If you're returning to read my latest babblings on things I think are important but probably aren't, thank you. 

Track Eight: Gutted.

I used to be a man of faith. I used to have faith in man. I used to believe I had a purpose and time would reveal its plan. In St. Louis reading 'Catcher in the Rye' I conceded to the persevering "why?" Disregarding what my gut told me was best, I up and followed romance to the West. On the ferry only red before my eyes, heart in pieces with no comfort from the skies. At the harbor fresh epiphanies arrest, a new life a new love coalesce. And now how do I reconcile the man I was to the man I am now? "Faith" and "purpose," just words - that I can't escape.

I can still feel the crisp fall air and dew on the picnic table trying to soak my sleeves. Though I had a stack of books and writing pads, I mostly just stared into the haze, wondering where I'd went wrong. So much had changed so quickly. A romance dissolved in a single, fevered, phone call. A dream dashed, a future abandoned. So much of me had been wrapped up in ideas of what was supposed to be. As I look back on it, it may be this moment of disillusion that showed me just how easily I'd had it in life; A romantic betrayal had been the worst experience of my life. 

After a regretfully public display of mourning, dramatic song lyrics addressed to the not-so-ambiguous "you" on Myspace included, I moved away again, and moved on. I tried to focus on myself in positive ways, rigorously combatting the self-blame I was inclined toward. I mastered push-ups for the first time. I rode my bike far and long, late into the night and early morning. I read books and debated faiths. I figured out how to laugh again. I guarded my heart. Then, after nearly a year, I met her. Well, met her again. What started out as a merely a place to stay while visiting the Big Apple turned into my future. A new love then, and now my life. 

I've written about faith and purpose quite a bit over the course of this blog. I have no new thoughts on these just yet. However, I can say this heartache changed my feelings about them. Until this happened, life had pretty much left me unchallenged. I had prior experiences that caused heartache and suggested doubt, but this upended things for me. It gave me a new, raw wound that for the first time couldn't seem to be healed with hugs from Mom and Dad, inspirational cliches, or nuggets of wisdom plucked from sacred books. It's been over ten years and I still dream about some of the events that damaged my heart. Up until this happened, faith in the great, 'too-wild-to-be-made-up' story, seemed feasible; to believe without seeing, without feeling was feasible, it was all I had ever known. This faith gave life to the idea of a grand sense of purpose, a God-given purpose. But the faith I'd been born into gave me no more comfort than the friends who told me "time heals all things." The purpose I was told god had for me never felt real, never felt true. What helped me was meeting others who were open and forthright with their thoughts, feelings, and doubts about life. What helped was truly acknowledging this thorn, this nagging whisper, this persevering "why," and realizing that indulging it didn't mean the end of the world.

I've had the hardest time writing this piece because it seems trivial to say that a lover's betrayal made me lose my faith. That's the simplest way to interpret this situation, but of course it's more complicated than that. It did help me see through a new lens. Having the wool pulled over my eyes so brazenly helped me lift veils I'd been I'd been giving weight to for longer than I wish I had. While I fear it hardened my heart in certain ways that ten years later I'm still massaging, it gave way to a more authentic version of myself; A self that became comfortable living without conclusions. But of course I'm still haunted by the wants of a neat, tidy narrative that allows me to feel individually special in all of the world's existence. But I find living and letting live more rewarding, though my mind struggles to allow that every day. The ghosts of former know-it-all belief systems rattle their shackles through my mind. And so I live now, trying to find comfort in questions without answers, loving what is here before me, knowing that it will all leave me, and I it, sooner than I think.

(Image stolen from here, the title of the song comes from a Deadwood quote by Cy Tolliver, the character pictured.)

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